October 31, 2010

Hunting: Maine needs coyotes and deer


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A male eastern coyote snarls in its pen at the A.E. Howell Wildlife Conservation Center in Amity. In northern and eastern Maine, coyote predation is above the level that deer populations can withstand and remain healthy. But they also have a beneficial role.

The Associated Press

In northern and eastern Maine at least, coyote predation is above the level that deer populations can withstand and still remain healthy. In other areas it's not that bad, yet. But the impact is measurable and more significant than it's ever been.

There is a political side to wildlife management as well. One cannot overlook the fact that nearly all wildlife conservation is funded through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. And according to the most recent federal survey, deer hunters comprise more than 80 percent of all hunters 16 years and older.

Take away the deer, hunters go away and funding for everything from bog turtles to butterflies goes with them. In an indirect way, maintaining healthy deer herds is vital to the perpetuation of all wildlife conservation efforts nationwide.

Just as Leopold's mountain needs wolves, Maine needs coyotes. Relative newcomers on a geologic time scale, they are none the less now a part of our wild fauna. pursuing deer, they keep individuals wild and wary, and by culling the sick and the weak they keep the herd healthy.

But the mountain needs deer too, as both a part of our wildlife community and a commercial recreational resource.

When predator and prey populations co-exist harmoniously, we can subscribe to the philosophical musings of Leopold's "Sand County Almanac." But when systems become grossly unbalanced, it's time to follow the prescriptions from another of his masterpieces: "Game Management."


Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer, Registered Maine Guide and certified wildlife biologist. He can be contacted at:



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